Pet Blogger Challenge, The Sequel

For the second year in a row, GoPetFriendly.com and Will My Dog Hate Me have issued a challenge to pet bloggers. They created a series of questions centred around the topic of blogging and all the craziness that follows. I participated last year and enjoyed the opportunity to think deeper about what it is I am trying to produce with this space. Twelve months later, I still don’t really know. I hope you’ll indulge me as I try to figure it all out once more. If you feel so inclined, I also hope you will join in!

Pet Blogger Challenge Jan. 10

I have always been a little long-winded. One of my favourite university professors even wrote those exact words on one of my papers. He didn’t mean it as a compliment but I showed it off with pride. Blogging allows me to ramble as much as I please without dealing with red ink all over my page. If I want, I can say the same thing over and over again and no one can stop me. I can revel in the superfluous! (Kinda like I just did there. Mwahahahaha!) I’ve always enjoyed the process of writing; it was the discipline I lacked. As a child I would love coming up with new stories to tell but by the fourth or fifth page I would lose interest and move onto something else. For years, it was the same with blogging. I would create a new website, come up with a fun title, type a few posts about what I ate for lunch, and then never log-in again.

But then I got this dog and all that changed.

Blogging has been a lot of things for me in the last two years. It has been a release, it has been a chore, it has been a source of immense support. One of the biggest goals I set for myself in the previous challenge was to find a way to give back to a community that welcomed me instantly without even knowing my background. I could be an art thief with pink hair and a horrible taste in shoes. I could wear tights as pants every day. The pet blogging community wouldn’t care. It was a stunning thing to me. Still is. Much to my chagrin, I don’t think I have achieved this goal. Thanking people for their kindness just isn’t enough. Here is what I wrote last year and I still feel this today, maybe even more so:

This community is filled with the best kind of people in the world. People who care about others, people who make sacrifices, people who will take five minutes to stop and impart a kind word, people who realise that such kind words matter. This is a place I am so grateful to have found and I want to deserve the honour. There has to be a brilliant way to acknowledge the silliness, the preciousness, the awesomeness, the stark genius, of this entire community.

I am still determined to figure this out. Even if I have to keep plugging away on here for the rest of my life.

The other goals I had were petty in comparison. I wanted to start self-hosting. Check! I wanted to create a unique design. Check! I wanted to better utilize social media. Check-ish: time-sucking Facebook continues to evade my prowess.  It does feel pretty cool to look back at the things I have accomplished, no matter how small. I even figured out, all by myself, how to add my own nifty social media buttons to my sidebar. Is it silly to be so proud of something others could do without taking a breath? Oh well, I’m going to brag about it anyway!

These days I blog on a pretty strict schedule. Every morning after walking the dog, I pour myself a cup of coffee and try to post something remotely interesting. Some days the words come easier than others. I do find this routine helps. Often, even if I don’t have any particular ideas, the act of sitting in my favourite corner of the sofa, Shiva’s warmth at my side, will inspire my thoughts. There are times I blog apart from this routine, such as the rare times I post on weekends, but that’s pretty much it. I am sitting in that exact spot right now, in fact, morning news on the television in front of me, mind on the Interwebs and the puppy beside me.

Traffic and site stats and all such insidious things did distract me a little this year, I have to admit. I have always maintained that I don’t blog for comments just as I don’t practice agility for ribbons. While that is still very much true, I did find myself clicking on the “stats” link a little more than was healthy. It helps that I have no time to figure out the intricacies of Google Analytics. Mid-summer, I was forced to delete my site stats when the WordPress plugin caused damage to my sidebar.  (Why do good plugins go insane? Why?) With no way to see the numbers in front of me, I stopped worrying about it. It was probably the best thing that could have happened to an over-thinking brain like mine. If I can’t see it, I can’t stress over it. Done.

Of course, if I am not generating the traffic, there is no chance for me to generate income either. I am still kind of ambivalent about this anyway. I’ve had advertisements up and then a few days later I’ve taken them down. Blogging for money is not an easy thing to do. From what I have seen, it is pretty rare for a person to make a career out of posting pictures of their dog on the Internet. (Dang.) I am not saying it doesn’t happen, but it probably takes more time and dedication than I have. A little bit extra here and there would be nice, yet I am not sure the work involved is worth the few extra cents. Right now I am definitely interested – working in the nonprofit industry for as long as I have will keep your mind very open to financial opportunities! – though not at all committed. (If you have any tips, I’d love to hear them!)

Ultimately, my feelings about blogging have not changed. I do go through periods where I question if I am just wasting my time. Taking the website thing a lot more seriously has put a strain on my other activities. I don’t read books as much as I used to, for one, and I don’t spend as much time emailing family and friends. It bothers me that I haven’t been able to achieve a balance, especially in regards to the latter. By the end of 2011, I felt overwhelmed by all the demands on my time. A re-prioritzation might be in order. There are never going to be more than 24 hours in a day. No magical girl is going to float down, glowing pink wand in hand, to grant me just five more minutes. I need to learn how to make the most of spare seconds I do have and spend them in a way I won’t regret. That’s going to be my biggest challenge. If the blog suffers for it, I may just have to suck it up.

All that being said, I do still love it. I love sharing stories about my crazy dog and I love feeling like a part of something. Even if it’s something my former self would have mocked relentlessly. I am also excited at the prospect of maybe, finally, eventually meeting some of you in person this year. Maybe. If I can stop myself from running away and hiding. The excitement is definitely scented with nervousness!

If this goes anywhere this year, if I do start attempting to make money or if my dog gets her chance at super-stardom, I hope the website never loses the essence it had when we began. At its core, this blog is about my dog and I and our struggles to connect. It’s about celebrating a relationship that is so often taken for granted or abused. If nothing else, I think to think it serves as a tribute to my dog and to myself, with all our flaws and foibles. If no one ever reads it again, not even my mother – who actually has never once read my blog – I hope I keep doing this dorky, crazy, silly, wonderful thing.

And I hope you do too.

Thanks to you all for your incredible support and encouragement! While I am not surprised Shiva has so many fans, I am constantly stunned by your kindness. If you have the time, I hope you participate in this challenge as well. I’d love to read what you have discovered about yourself in this last year of blogging!

 

25 thoughts on “Pet Blogger Challenge, The Sequel

  1. Hi Kristine, my mom and dad have found a community of welcoming people and dogs and other assorted friends. For them and me, blogging has been a release and an expression of their continuing hope that perhaps one day, I’ll get some use of my back leggies again. They’ve given up alot, a dizzying amount every month but that’s the price of happy kids. And “happy kids” are what our blogs are all about. What our kids do, eat, feel, see, smell, touch, taste…it’s their lives and ours. Well Kristine, if and when you come back out west, you’ll find a welcoming group out here and good coffee nearby. Bet Shiva would like it…

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  2. I have always been so impressed with your discipline (and I well know you don’t see yourself that way!) and above all else, the quality of your writing. I have a B.A. in creative writing and a Master’s in English Lit, and therefore feel competent to judge good writing when I see it.

    And you do give back. Every time you post a link to my site I get more hits than I do when I put up my own posts. You have more readers than I do, and I can’t tell you how your site has helped mine. Thank goodness we’re not in competition for advertising revenue.

    Keep it up girl, we’re all behind you 100%

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  3. I agree with One Person’s View, you give a lot to Blogville.

    I also have to admit to being slightly intimated by you, you seem to have it all put together while I feel like a fish out of water. You manage to put out a top notch blog, you spend quality time with your dog and PH (notice which one got top billing) 🙂 You work full-time and still have time to comment (very well thought out, personal comments) on other peoples blogs.

    You are someone I aspire to be like Kristine, there I said it. When people hold me in the esteem I hold you, I will feel like I have made it.

    Keep up the great work!

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  4. I think you are able to give back more than you think you do. You are certainly paying it forward. Yours is one of the first blogs I started reading this past year and I think having your blog as a resource (and through your blog, being introduced to the entire pet blogging community) was one of the main things that got me through a rough beginning with my dog. I don’t know if I even would have found the strength to keep her if it hadn’t been for your blog and now she is one of the best things in my life. Your relationship with Shiva is inspiring and encouraging and just plain fun to read about. Add me to the list of people who are impressed by everything you do. Thanks for doing it 🙂

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  5. I couldn’t agree more with everything the other posters have said. I don’t know if you know this, or remember it if you did know, but you were one of the first people to ever comment on my blog and I was so excited to have people I didn’t even know visiting and commenting on one of my posts. Your discipline is inspiring … and your posts never fail to entertain. Yours was one of the first blogs we discovered but it remains one of our very favorites and one of the few that we try to make time to read every day, which we generally do, even though we don’t always comment. So please keep writing … we promise to keep reading!

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  6. hehe thats the world upside down. Silly, dorky, crazy? Yes (especialy crazy) but also enthusiastic, honest, educational and inspiring. Your blog is a cornerstone in the pet blogging community, and “we” are equally grateful for you and Shiva. Rescued Insanity is one of those few unique blogs, dont ask me why, of which we cannot get enough. Your professor was wrong.

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  7. Alright, speaking as a person with pink hair and horrible taste in shoes [WHAT shoes? I live in thongs.] AND who wears tights as pants every day… you’re in deep trouble girlie!

    As if.

    You know I love you so I’m not going to gush anymore. Some people can be as verbose as they like in their posts and comments and they’re still fun to read. You’re one of them.

    I agree with OPV – I get more hits everytime one of my posts appears on your blog. So thanks very much for pushing my numbers up! Can we have a chat about you putting one of my posts up every week on your blog? A little bribery perhaps? You could make an old lady really happy 🙂

    HUGS to you and Shiva, and YOU go hug PH for you know what! Shame Ms K lol 😉

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  8. Another long-winded one over here… so I’m totally cheering past you for sharing your professor’s comments with pride.

    I absolutely adore your blog. Adore it. You’re funny, clever, and always entertaining. AND you manage to be an inspiration for those who might have a… shall we say, difficult… dog. 🙂 I’m always so impressed with the bond that you and Shiva have and I think your blog is just the bees’ knees (or the cat’s ass…. your choice).

    Also, I wish Sharer of Photos of My Dog was a real career path. You don’t see that major offered alongside English and History. (Speaking of English, my reading has taken a hit too! I’m working to regain my former book nerd status.)

    I hope you really don’t wear tights as pants every day. If you were an art thief, however, I’d actually find it pretty cool, pink hair or not. 🙂

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  9. Oh God, please tell me you don’t wear tight pants every day!!

    And, I’m pretty sure you’ll meet at least one fellow blogger in 2012 – even if you run and hide – Nova Scotia isn’t all that big. We’ll find you. =D

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  10. I seriously feel like we are kindred spirits Kristine. The fact that you can use a word like “superfluous” just totally makes me smile.

    I am feeling very much bullied by my blog as you indicated above. I haven’t had time to read as much as I used to either and emails? Forget it. I’m lucky if I get to them in a week. It’s awful. I’ve actually missed several opportunities from companies because I just can’t seem to respond in a timely manner.

    I would love to skip the stats too, but unfortunately since WordPress is my host site, I see it every time I log in, but perhaps there is a way to pay less attention to it. After all, I write because I love to do so, not because I need to have more and more followers. I can’t complain though. I love the people I have met through my blog.

    I am also someone who starts a story and gets bored and moves on to something else. I need a schedule like you.

    As you stated above, you are very clear about your brand (seriously, I really do hate that word). You know what your blog is about and what and stay true to that. This is what I aspire to do with mine.

    As far as thanking this wonderful community we all get to partake in? I think you just did. With this post. I love your blog and your writing. 🙂

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  11. Blogging to me has become one of those things that I love one day and despise the next because there just isn’t enough time to tackle all the posting, reading and social networking. Sometimes I wish I could just go back to the basics of just blogging!

    I admire your writing skills and the way that you keep your audience hanging on your next sentence. I look forward to hanging on this year:) that sounded better in my head, sorry for the corniness:))

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  12. I used to read more books, too. Now I just read blogs, which isn’t a bad thing but I do miss picking up a good book and snuggling with the dogs.

    I enjoy reading your blog and seeing what Shiva will do next. It’s fun and it’s real and I appreciate real.

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  13. I think your rambling style gives a warmth that is really pleasant. 🙂 I think, regardless of your topics – or your changing topics over time – your blog will continue to attract followers due to your writing style.
    I’ll keep enjoying reading and following your blog. Happy blogging for 2012.

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  14. Kristine, the way you so honestly and heroically embrace “what is” without apology, and without glossing it up or glossing it over, is a celebration of our true humanity. It’s courageous, refreshing, and inspiring. You stare straight into who you are, who your dog is, the challenge of the day, the accomplishments, the defeats, the picking up to do it all over again (hopefully better) tomorrow… and you do it in a way that makes me smile every single time I’m here. You make it cool to be a deeply feeling and observant human being, not some perfected, shallow charicature with all the answers. You are my favorite kind of blogger, and person. And I would take the tights, hair, and art thievery if it came with the package. You’re that interesting.

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  15. Kristine, I can’t tell you how much respect I have for you and your blog. I have no idea how you turn out such well thought out, consistently awesome posts every single day. You must be exhausted or utterly brilliant! Your working relationship with Shiva is something I aspire to build on with Kolchak. You two are a team and I love reading your training posts.

    Whether you realize it or not, you give back a ton. Your willingness to help with training ideas and to sign on for crazy projects like K9 Kamp is what makes you an invaluable member of this amazing community. When I was shaken and feeling very insecure about training, your Supporting Insanity post made me feel like I was in control again and I am so grateful.

    I completely agree that the community is what makes blogging amazing. I could not imagine a group of more diverse and totally awesome people. I feel truly amazed that I get to be a part of it.

    (PS – My Mom doesn’t read my blog either. LOL, she visited on Tasty Tuesday this week to see how I used the pan she got me for Christmas. I asked her what she though of the post and the recipe and she said “Oh, I didn’t actually read it, but the picture was nice.” Thanks Mom. Good thing the dog blogging community is so darn supportive or I might be hurt by your lack of interest!)

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  16. Impressive! As what I was thinking, Dog is a man’s best friend and no doubt if someday is already surfing in computer and a great blogger.. It’ s become
    ” My doggy Blogger”.Lolz”)

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  17. Since yours is the blog where I feel most comfortable speaking my true feelings, can I just get off my chest that I’m feeling a tad overwhelmed by this challenge? My hermit ways are bubbling up to the surface… too many people in here…

    K – feel better now.

    And, I think that about sums up all the many compliments I could leave here. Keep on keepin’ on – for the sake of my sanity. Thank you. 😉

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  18. Thanks for taking part! I love your blog too for being so honest and out there. Your blog reminds me of a poet friend I once had; I haven’t seen her in years but when she used to visit it was always a cathartic let it all out experience — but I could justify it intellectually because she was very smart.

    So there.

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  19. Sorry I’m so late to come by. The good news is all the thoughtful and expressive people have told the truth about you, Shiva, and RescuedInsanity.com. So I guess I can join Buster and Honey in their nap.

    Just kidding.

    You’ve done some amazing things this year and turned out so many amusing, thoughtful, and thought-provoking posts.

    Little did your PH know what he was doing when he suggested you start this blog. Now you know that he’s not the only one who loves you. 🙂

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  20. Pingback: Pet Blogger Challenge 33 1/3 - Rescued InsanityRescued Insanity

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